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The bainite transformation is intermediate between pearlite and martensite transformations.

The kinetics of this transformation and the structures formed exhibit features of both
diffusive pearlite transformation and diffusionless martensite transformation.
A mixture of the a-phase (ferrite) and carbide is formed as a result of the bainite
transformation. The mixture is called bainite. The bainite transformation mechanism involves
g ! a rearrangement of the lattice, redistribution of carbon, and precipitation of carbide.
Most researchers are of the opinion that ferrite precipitates from austenite by the martensitic
mechanism. This is attested to by the presence of retained austenite in alloyed steels,
a similarity in the structure of lower bainite and martensite, and the resemblance of upper
bainite to low-carbon martensite.
Closeness of the bainite transformation to its pearlite and martensite counterparts can be
explained as follows. The diffusive movement of atoms of the basic component, iron, is
almost completely suppressed over the bainite transformation range. Then the g ! a
formation of ferrite is difficult because pearlite precipitation is suppressed. However, carbon
diffusion is rather active and causes precipitation of carbides.
Over the intermediate range the g-phase crystals are formed through coherent growth
similarly to martensite plates. But the a-phase plates are formed slowly rather than
instantaneously. This is due to the fact that over the intermediate temperature range the a-phase
can precipitate only from the carbon-depleted g-phase. Thus the growth rate of the a-phase
crystals depends on the carbon diffusive removal rate. In this case, the martensite start
point Ms in austenite rises and the martensite g ! a transformation takes place at temperatures
above the temperature Ms typical of the steel with a given composition.
At the instant of martensite transformation the carbon concentration remains unchanged.
Only the crystal lattice is altered and a supersaturated a solution is formed. Carbide precipitates
after g ! a transformation.
A distinction is drawn between upper and lower bainite, which are formed in the upper and
lower parts of the intermediate temperature range. The conventional boundary between the
bainites is close to 3508C (6608F). Upper bainite has a feathery structure, whereas lower
bainite exhibits an acicular morphology, which is close to that of martensite. The difference in
the structures of upper and lower bainites is attributed to a different mobility of carbon in the
upper and lower parts of the bainite temperature range.
An electron microscopic analysis showed that the a-phase substructure of upper bainite
resembles the substructure of massive martensite in low-carbon steels, while the a-phase
structure of lower bainite approximates the structure of martensite in high-carbon steels. In
upper bainite, carbide particles can precipitate both at lath boundaries and inside laths. This
fact suggests that here carbides precipitate directly from austenite. In lower bainite, carbide is
found inside the a-phase. This means that carbide is formed during precipitation of a
supersaturated solid solution of carbon in the a-phase. Both upper and lower bainites exhibit
a high density of dislocations inside the a-phase.
Cementite is the carbide phase in upper bainite, and e-carbide in lower bainite. As the
holding time is increased, e-carbide turns into cementite. The austenite grain dimensions have
no effect on the martensite transformation kinetics.